Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A break from the "gimmes"

So, a while back, I posted about desperately wanting a pair of Melodia pants. Desperately, like I couldn’t live without then, in severe pout mode, ready to slap them on a credit card – it was crucial that I buy these pants. I did manage to talk myself off the ledge, reassuring myself that the pants would still be there when I had the money…and they were. Last week I had the money and I ordered the pants. Black S33 Fringes. Beautiful. I got them Monday – they are fabulous! They do wonderful things for my butt, they are comfy and sexy, and I am just loving them. I am sure I will get plenty of use out of them. But after they arrived, and I had tried them on, I did what I do with most any other new toy – played with it for a second, then set it aside. The thrill was gone. This gave me pause and I thought – is this all there is? Do I live merely for the pursuit of new things? I have plenty of things – I buy things, I make things…don’t I have enough? Is there ever enough? How often to I buy things that I need versus things I just want?

Monday night after the pants arrived, I finished my latest library book, The High Cost of Materialism. It was an eye-opener. I am materialistic, simple as that. And because I am this way, I am not truly living my life, but merely window-shopping. Focusing on things detracts from my relationships with other people and the world around me. It’s a depressing thought. It’s also a rather pathetic thought. Do I really put objects ahead of everything else? Are my priorities totally out of whack?

I’ve read other books on voluntary simplicity, going without, not shopping; I regularly peruse blogs such as The Compact…but I’ve never given too much thought to doing it myself. Could I do it? Could I give up my materialistic ways? Even for, say, a month? I have my doubts…but I’m willing to give it a shot. So, in the spirit of ML’s personal challenges, I’m going to give up buying myself things for 30 days. I started yesterday… ;)

Here are my rules:

  • No new clothing. The folks at the Compact and even at the local yahoo group allow for purchases such as swimwear, socks, and undies, but I’m well-stocked, so I’ll be fine…
  • No new music, movies, books. I am a belly-dance dvd and cd addict. In fact, I have a new dvd on order with Amazon. However, it’s a pre-release order, so it shouldn’t show up before this challenge is over, and if it does, I won’t open it. I already get most of my books from the library and from Paperback Swap, so I should be fine in that department as well.
  • No unnecessary grocery items or toiletries – I am about to run out of shampoo (a necessity), but I will skip the pretty nail polish that I’ll have to pass on my way to the hair product aisle. I’ll also restrain from junk food and other useless food items – just because I want it doesn’t mean my body benefits from it.
  • No new fabric or craft supplies. This is probably the big one – other than dvds – I buy A LOT of fabric. In fact, I have bags and bags of fabric in our guest room. I have so many un-started and half-finished projects, I could probably go all summer without buying more. Maybe I will! For now, though, I will concentrate on using up what I have for the next 29 days.

I’ll probably add to this list – I’m sure there is plenty of other stuff I insist on buying on a whim.

What I am allowed:

  • Non-material entertainment – concerts, lectures, art exhibits, plays – you don’t really “consume” that kind of stuff. That is, it’s not going to sit on my shelf after I’ve paid for it. Same for paying for classes and workshops – they are experiences, and well-worth the money. The hard part here will be the shopping at the workshops – there is a workshop in two weeks and it will be difficult not to buy anything among all the sparkly objects for sale.
  • Food (non-junk) and necessary toiletries, medications. I’m not getting any thrill out of these, believe me.
  • Used and home-made objects. I love to sew, so I have some ideas in mind for refashioning some old pieces and constructing some new ones. Plus I will continue to trade books and use the things I already have.

Hopefully, I’ll come out of this experience with a less-cluttered guest room, some extra cash and a sense of peace…and hopefully I won’t head straight for the mall.